Albemarle BOS continue to work through FY22 budget

Albemarle Supervisors went through the county school system’s request as well as capital projects at their work session Monday.  Graham Paige is the chair of the Albemarle School Board.

“We are projecting the current revenues of $205.8 million which is an increase of $12 million over the current fiscal year,” Paige said. “The majority of that increase, that $6.9 million, is a general fund transfer from local government which as you know is increasing in response to higher real estate assessments and other local tax revenues that so far have been impacted by COVID-19 less than anticipated.” 

Paige said the school board’s request is balanced, but if revenues come in higher than expected, the hope is that income can go to pay for a salary increase. The request includes an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. 

One factor in the size of the school budget is the number of pupils. Katrina Callsen is the vice chair of the Albemarle School Board.

“Next school year we are projecting an increase of more than 800 students over current enrollment,” Callsen said. “So moving from the 13,208 to 14,046.” 

Albemarle school staff will continue to adjust its budget as more information about state revenues comes in. They’ll adopt their budget in May, after Supervisors have adopted the county’s overall budget.

Supervisor Bea LaPisto Kirtley took the opportunity to ask about summer school. There is a plan to hold a morning session and afternoon session for learning recovery. Superintendent Matt Haas also said the school system is reaching out to community partners to help provide some of the lessons and assistance with logistics.

“We are putting out a request for proposals from our community partners that work with our students and often they have been great partners with the school system for field trips,” Haas said. 

That request for proposals carries the title “Summer Programming for Students and closes on April 2

Source: Albemarle County

Supervisors were also briefed on the $56.9 million capital budget for FY22. Several projects were paused in the current budget due to projected decline in revenues related to the pandemic as well as concerns about the uncertainty of the bond market. Albemarle’s chief of budget, Andy Bowman, said the bond market has stabilized, even if the rest of the economy has not yet done so. Interest rates are also lower than they were when the pandemic began, which will save the county money on debt service.

“Working with our financial adviser, we were able to reduce our projected interest rates and that results in a savings of about $400,000,” Bowman said.

Four new requests are proposed to be funded in the FY22 capital budget.

“They are additional funding for economic development public/private partnerships,” Bowman said. “We also have $3 million in additional funding for the transportation leveraging program, another $6.3 million for Mountain View Elementary School expansion and site improvements, and the final project was a trailhead for the Moores Creek trail that will then make a connection to a greater trail network in the future.” 

Supervisor Ned Gallaway of the Rio District noted that opposition to development projects often draws upon concerns of overcrowded schools. 

“There is going to be a coming concern for elementary school seats up 29 north that has to be on discussion at some point,” Gallaway said. 

Today, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors appropriated one-time money from reserve funds for two projects. One is for a $1.1 million solid waste “convenience center” to serve southern Albemarle and the other was to have been $3 million to expand broadband projects.  However, the Board reduced that to $350,000 for now to see if funding from the ARP can be used for this purpose. (this paragraph was updated after publication)

There’s another $3 million being set aside in a reserve known as the Business Process Optimization intended to build new systems for the Community Development Department. Kristy Shifflet is the county’s project management director.

“In FY21 we’ve begun building a roadmap, really how might we replace a new community development system as well as an enterprise resource planning, or ERP, effort in order to update our business systems for the modern workplace,” Shifflet said. “We understand this is a large undertaking but our technology in these areas are aging and limited.”

The new system could help speed up review of land use applications. (review Albemarle’s recommended FY22 budget

Albemarle will hold another budget work session on March 18 and will set the tax rate for the current calendar. The current property tax rate is $0.854 per $100 of assessed value, and staff has not recommended an increase. 

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the March 17, 2021 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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